Why Are You A Christian?

by Ken Sander

“Why are you a Christian?”

The words just hung there over the table in the small coffee shop where we were sitting. I
was drinking a Diet Pepsi, of course, while my friend slowly nursed his second cup of coffee. I
was surprised by the question. Although this was not the person who had led me to Christ, he
had done more in my life by way of discipleship than anyone else. Surely, of everyone I knew, he
knew why I was a Christian.

I thought furiously for a few moments. Although not consciously, my mind was processing all
of the spiritual-sounding, “Sunday School” answers. In seconds, I had selected one.

“Well,” I began, “for God so loved the world--” He cut me off before I could finish.

“No, not why is it possible for you to be a Christian, but why are you a Christian?”

More mental processing. Aha! I had it.

“Because Jesus died for my sins.” I knew I had him there. I smiled smugly to myself as I
slowly stirred the ice in my glass with my straw.

?You?re avoiding the question,? he said. ?I didn't?t ask you what Jesus did or didn't?t do, I asked
why you, you personally, are a Christian.”

I looked down at the table, confused. This was getting serious. I was sure by now that no
“Sunday School” answer would satisfy him, but what else did I have? Did I really want to look
that closely at my salvation? In desperation, I tried once more.

“Because of all the things God has done for me.”

He smiled. “So if God stopped doing things for you, you would renounce Him?”

His question took me totally off guard. I stammered, “Uh, no, of--of course not!” I looked
down again (not really expecting to find the answer in the slightly sticky plastic tablecloth), and
began to think about the question.

Was I a Christian solely because of what God has done for me? If so, would that necessarily
be wrong? I fidgeted with the napkin on the table, and remembered countless preachers who
offered to introduce sinners to “Jesus and what He can do for you!” Were they wrong? Had I
been taken in by that? Was my relationship with God based on greed and selfishness? In my
mind, I began to rehearse other answers to the question he had asked.

“Because I love Him.” As good as that sounded, I knew that, by itself, it wasn’t enough. I love
my parents, too, but I haven’t been all that obedient to them all the time, either.

?Because I couldn't?t make it through life without Him.? Oh, really? Look around, I said to
myself. There are millions of people to whom the name “Jesus” is only an exclamation, a swear
word. A great many of them make it through life just fine without God, some even better than I

“Because I will get to go to Heaven when I die.” As true and as important as this is, it can’t be
the only or even the primary reason.

The more I thought about it, the less I really knew why I was a Christian. None of the
answers I had learned by rote seemed even to approach a truthful, much less meaningful,

As I considered, I realized that, by all rights, I shouldn't?t even be a Christian. I?m not sure
anyone should, really. For the most part, we accepted Christ into our lives for extremely selfish
reasons; and that, incredibly, many of these attitudes are taught to us in church. Worse yet, I
realized that, if asked the same question, there are many people who, if they were being honest,
could not even try to answer.

Then it began to dawn on me. Not a “defense” answer, not a “Sunday School” answer, but an
answer straight from the heart. It was a simple answer, and a humbling one; and yet it was
freeing to the soul in ways I had not experienced before.

I looked up at my friend, who had been patiently waiting for my answer.

“I am a Christian,” I said, “because He is God, and I am not.”

He smiled warmly, stood up, paid the check, and we left.

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